NBC's Ann Curry to Joe Biden: With No WMD, Can U.S. 'Claim Victory' in Iraq?

In an interview with Vice President Joe Biden in Iraq aired on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry depicted the war effort there as a failure: "In a war that was started to protect the world from weapons of mass destruction that were never found, can the United States claim victory?" [Audio available here]

Biden agreed with Curry as he took a jab at the Bush administration: "We're not claiming victory. What we're claiming here is that we've done the job our administration set out to do, to end a war we did not start, to end it in a responsible way, to bring Americans home, to end the bleeding, both financially and physically that this war has caused..." [View video after the jump]

In a prior question to Biden, Curry challenged Obama's Iraq policy: "Do you worry that in the rush to fulfill a campaign promise, the Obama administration is pulling out of Iraq too soon?" Biden replied: "This is no rush, Ann. Eight years. This is no rush. Over 4,500 dead, 30,000 wounded. This is no rush."

However, Curry did not follow up by pointing out the failure of the Obama administration to negotiate a deal to allow some U.S. troops to stay in Iraq to ensure stability.

Asking about the President's ability to work with Congress, Curry wondered: "Has he been effective in creating the personal relationships required to lead this country?" Biden used the opportunity to attack the GOP: "...this is not your father's Republican Party. The Republican Party is sort of trying to find its soul. And so I don't think it's personal relationships. I think it's the ability to get a consensus in the Republican Party through the Republican leadership."


Here is a full transcript of the December 1 interview:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: Today exclusive. Ann Curry talks to Vice President Joe Biden in Baghdad as the last U.S. troops in Iraq prepare to leave, and he gets emotional as he reflects on his own son's return from a year of service there.

7:13AM ET SEGMENT:

LAUER: Vice President Joe Biden is wrapping up his final visit to Iraq before the U.S. military's withdrawal at the end of this year. Ann traveled to Baghdad with the Vice President and sat down with him for an exclusive interview.

ANN CURRY: How secure can Iraq really be when you, as a vice president, still must arrive under the cloak of darkness, under heavy security?

JOE BIDEN: There still are concerns here in Iraq but if you take a look at it, Ann, violence is down to an all-time low, to all the way back to 2002. We're in a situation where it's been that way for the last year and a half, but there's still the one-off jobs that can occur.

CURRY: There was one just this morning.

BIDEN: Yes.

CURRY: A car bomb with casualties.
                        
BIDEN: Right. And, you know, there are also, you know, there are car bombs in Europe. There are car bombs throughout the Middle East. There's car bombs – I mean, it is – but the idea that there is a sufficient capacity to bring down this government, to fundamentally alter this democratic process that's under way, that no longer exists.

CURRY: Do you worry that in the rush to fulfill a campaign promise, the Obama administration is pulling out of Iraq too soon?

BIDEN: This is no rush, Ann. Eight years. This is no rush. Over 4,500 dead, 30,000 wounded. This is no rush. It's three years since we took office almost. We've done this in a way that no one thought could be done. 144,000 troops when we took office. Now in a position with a highly trained Iraqi military, training their police force. This is no rush.

CURRY: In a war that was started to protect the world from weapons of mass destruction that were never found, can the United States claim victory?

BIDEN: We're not claiming victory. What we're claiming here is that we've done the job our administration set out to do, to end a war we did not start, to end it in a responsible way, to bring Americans home, to end the bleeding, both financially and physically that this war has caused, and to leave in place the prospect of a trained military, a trained security force, under democratic institutions, where the disparate parties are, for the first time, in generations, actually working together. It's not done yet, but there's real hope.

CURRY: What is to prevent Iran from moving in as the U.S. moves out?

BIDEN: There is no possibility of them having the capacity, without the world reacting – not just the United States, the world reacting – if all of a sudden Iran was to move across its border and invade any other countries in the region.

CURRY: You said in your Senate farewell speech, quote, "Personal relationships is the one thing that unlocks the true potential of this place."

BIDEN: I believe that.

CURRY: Has President Obama done enough? Has he been effective in creating the personal relationships required to lead this country?

BIDEN: He has tried very, very hard. He's tried repeatedly with the Speaker. He has tried with the leaders in the House – I mean, in the United States Senate. He meets regularly with the leadership of both. I think most of my Republican colleagues would say and have said that I have strong personal relationships with them. And yet nothing has moved. And the reason is, this is not your father's Republican Party. The Republican Party is sort of trying to find its soul. And so I don't think it's personal relationships. I think it's the ability to get a consensus in the Republican Party through the Republican leadership.

CURRY: You have not yet closed the door on 2016. Are you ready to do that today? Are you running for president?

BIDEN: No, I am never ready to close the door on anything. That's just a foolish thing to do. I learned a long time ago. My dad used to have an expression. He said, "Joe, remember, never argue with your wife about anything that's going to happen more than a year from now, and don't make decisions about anything that's going to happen more than a year from now." I am intent on re-electing Barack Obama President of the United States of America, the rest will take care of itself.

CURRY: When you look in your son's face, a young man who served in this country, served for the United States in its war in Iraq, and you go back to him representing all of the thousands of young men and women who've risked their lives, who've died, who've lost their friends, what do you say?

BIDEN: First of all, I say, "I'm so damn proud of you." I am so incredibly proud of him and these kids, and I say it mattered, it mattered. They straightened out a situation that they inherited. They did it in a way that, this is in my view the greatest generation. This isn't the 'X' generation. This is the exceptional generation. They are amazing. You know, when Beau came home after a year, obviously there was an overwhelming sense of joy and relief, but there was this – all I could think of was those fallen angels whose parents were in Dover to recover their child. I'm sorry. This – anyway, I say to them, be proud of what you did for your country, be proud of the example you showed the world, and, most of all, be proud of how you protected your fellow soldiers.

LAUER: That's Ann's exclusive interview with Vice President Joe Biden. You can see more of that interview tonight on Nightly News.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC